In the last 20 years, nothing has shaped the realm of sports more than the incorporation of quantitative analysis, mathematics and statistics. More recently, the rise of modern analytics has driven nearly all major sports organizations to expand their use of data beyond traditional television broadcasts - to uncover insights to improve team and player performance, create new revenue streams and grow their fan base.
Case in point - Charlotte Football Club, the Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team that is expected to kickoff in 2022.
The club partnered with SDS to empower undergraduate students to derive “off-the-field” insights through a variety of projects. Students from the Sports Business Analytics class were divided into groups to tackle three separate projects on salary cap efficiency, expansion drafts and international roster usage. Charlotte FC provided brief guidelines and historical data sets for each objective.
“Analyzing “off-the-field” data is a newer trend in the soccer industry and across the MLS,” said Bobby Belair, Director of Player Personnel for Charlotte FC. “We’re excited to work with UNC Charlotte and the School of Data Science to help accomplish the team’s goal as we strive to be at the forefront of this movement, with relevant data that can help enhance our performance on and off the field.”
“This project gave our students a concrete knowledge of how the business side of a professional sports team operates,” said John Tobias, Sports Analytics Lecturer for the School of Data Science and the Department of Kinesiology. “It’s important for young practitioners to understand the role of analytics in operational strategies such as salary caps, trade negotiations and financial management.”
Based on the completed work, Charlotte FC will incorporate the findings from the salary cap efficiency project into its ongoing recruitment strategy, with the goal of completing the inaugural 30-man roster prior to the 2022 season.
“Our students were extremely grateful for this opportunity,” said Tobias. “We look forward to strengthening our partnership with Charlotte FC this summer.”
SDS will continue its partnership with Charlotte FC through the sports analytics summer practicum course. As the only college practicum of its kind in the Carolinas, it allows students to complete “on-the-field” sports analytics projects with professional sports teams and organizations. This year, students will have the opportunity to work alongside Charlotte FC, the Carolina Panthers, ESPN, the Charlotte Knights, the Charlotte Hornets and the 2020 Summer Olympics.